22 Sep 2023 World leisure: news, training & property
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Attractions Management
2022 issue 1

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Leisure Management - Supersensory

Editor's letter


It’s no longer enough to focus on the ‘Big Five’ senses if you want to fully connect with visitors. Why not engage the senses of danger, balance or justice to create experiences that truly resonate?

Tomas Saraceno’s sensory installation at The Shed, NYC, page 32 Nicholas Knight

As we emerge from the pandemic, pent up demand is seeing people hungry for the adventures they’ve been missing out on.

Memorable experiences are all about triggering sensations, and that’s something the attractions industry has always excelled at, but could we be doing even more?

Museums and attractions have long described themselves as multi-sensory as a result of including exhibits and interactives that appeal to visitors’ core senses of sight, sound, smell, touch and taste.

However, today, we have far more scientific insight into how we can engage a fuller range of senses and there’s an opportunity to use this knowledge to engage visitors in more profound, unusual and creative ways.

In a fascinating interview on page 32, Roto founder, Joseph Wisne, argues it’s time for us to move beyond the sensory to develop ‘supersensory’ experiences that stimulate the full range of senses in all their depth and diversity.

We know humans have far more than the five ‘basic’ senses we were taught about at school. We can now add a sense of danger or pain, and more complex ‘senses’, such as a sense of humour, justice or empathy to the list. All these can be used to tell powerful stories.

We can also use the science of ‘peak experience’ to play with the sense of time and make an experience feel longer than it really is, or get creative and use the senses of proprioception or balance to ‘wake up’ visitors.

This knowledge is being used by pioneers to create richer and more memorable experiences.

One of the most memorable experiences I’ve had was Punchdrunk’s Masque of the Red Death, in which the audience dressed up, the entire Victorian theatre was transformed and the live music, food and drinks were all part of the experience. We could touch the props, see and smell smoke – we were taken on a journey where we felt curious, excited and at times downright uneasy. The fact I shared the experience with friends only deepened its impact.

The success of attractions such as Superblue Miami, the Van Gogh Immersive Experiences and Meow Wolf and teamLab’s art-based attractions show people’s desire to feel fully engaged and stimulated. Static attractions and museums can learn from this to get supersensory and deepen visitors’ connection with what they’re experiencing.

Magali Robathan, Attractions Management editor

Originally published in Attractions Management 2022 issue 1

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